Perhaps you’ve seen the recent Gillette commercial about men being the best they can be. The phrase “the best a man can get” took me back to hazy “wonder years” when I wondered when I might need to shave anything at all.
As I watched the clip, it evoked similar beneath-the-surface feelings: recognition, conviction, inspiration and commitment. So I was surprised to hear and read that not everyone had the same positive impression of the clip as I did. In fact, I saw through one source that reactions against the commercial were 4:1 versus those that saw it as positive.
Reading a few of the angry posts denouncing it I saw a consistent theme: “I’m sick and tired of the countless messages I see and hear these days that tell me I’m not good enough as a man! In fact, I refuse to listen to your hate, shame and condemnation for what it means to be manly!”
If we’re honest I think we’d have to admit that, as timely or as needed as many think they are, #metoo or #timesup or the #toxicmasculinity posts often have a common thread to many men, “You’re gender is the problem. The less the rest of us have of you the better off we’ll be.”
I’ve met virtually no men who feel righteously convicted let alone inspired by that message. Especially if the communicator combines it with a sneer or a finger in the face. Any finger.
But that doesn’t mean the message is entirely off target; just the communication of it.
If you’re a guy, (or a woman for that matter), imagine a soccer coach, band director or debate coach who pulled you personally aside put his arm around your shoulder and said, “I’ve been watching you and I like what I see. But you consistently miss anticipating that pass, (or that key change or that opportunity to bring your point home). I know you have it in you. In fact, I’m convinced you have it in you. Others are counting on you because you matter. We need you.”
Is there anything you would not do to focus on that issue, listen to those around you, or learn from him in order to be who he sees you as being? No.
What I’ve learned over the years of being a guy, and speaking to them, is that men will respond to two significant messages: Honesty and Hope. But they both need to be present. Too much Honesty and no Hope, my brothers and I will walk away in disgust, shame or anger. Too much Hope and no Honesty, and the message doesn’t pierce. It just bounces off the outer armor.
Honesty and Hope. Jesus called it Truth and Grace. The apostle Paul called it Truth and Love. That’s what men need to hear. That’s what anyone needs to hear if they are going to be transformed.
So, male-bashers, enough with the shaming, demeaning, profanity-laced, one-directional messages that tear men down and ignore their God-designed glory. And men, lay down the armor just a minute when you see or hear a message that has both Honesty and Hope.
I’m telling you, I think Gillette got this one right. I’m done being one of the guys at the start of the clip. I want to be one of the guys at the end. I want to be the best man I can be. I think you do, too.
And we need you.
My greatest joy in life is my family. I know, that sounds like the comment you’re supposed to make as a man and father. All I can say is I literally shake my head in wonder at the family I have: my wife Beryl; my daughter Barclay and son-in-law Vince, their four daughters, Bella, Brynn, Brooke and Blake; my son Alec, my son Conor and daughter-in-law Bonnie, their daughter Gemma and son Calvin. Every one of them is a genuine gift. Beyond that, I have a calling that I live out through Peregrine Ministries. It is to help men: Understand their identity in Christ, Embrace their role as men, and Live out their God-given calling in life. Bottom line is I’m convinced men matter and I want to help them live life on purpose.
Craig…thank you!!! Sincerely, your writing just keeps getting more potent and live-giving. Keep it coming, my friend………..!
Thanks for cheering, Wes!
Fantastic post, Craig. I appreciate your insight and perspective. I was actually encouraged by the message and felt it a timely reminder of the old ideas about what makes men “manly” (bullying others, pure aggression / testosterone, disrespecting women and seeing them only as objects that exist for men’s pleasure) and a calling for us as men to aspire to who Christ was, and who God calls us to be.
From a marketing perspective, it’s obviously genius, as it got such a strong reaction and got people talking / debating about a commercial. So I say kudos to Gillette for putting out a timely and debate-stirring ad, and I love the reminders that as men, we are called to be warriors through how we love, protect, and encourage those around us.
Carl, I appreciate your thoughtful comments. Yes, they sure got attention to the topic.
I’ve been waiting for you to say something….very good.
Well said! Since 96% of the murders in the world are committed by men we have to accept that in a fallen world there is a male disposition to violence. This is why we need all the reinforcement and encouragement of both men and women to be men of courage and integrity. But I also agree that disparagement of men either individually or as a gender in general does not help. Your emphasis on hope and honesty does bring out the best in us. Thanks for your good reflections on an ad that is trying to do some good. Would that more advertisers have that kind of social conscience even if to some it is displayed imperfectly.
Yes, Bob, I give Gillette a lot of credit for speaking into a subject that is filled with controversy and strong emotions. I do wish others advertisers would invest in the same kind of thoughtful, beneath-the-surface communication. Thanks for your input.
Great article Craig. Well said.
Craig, awesome post. Those two words, Honesty & Hope are the two sides of the razor blade. One side can cut and the other can clean you up and help you look better. And with the right balance they work. Great word picture!
Thanks, Britt! Oh, man. Yes, one side can cut, badly. How crucial it is to bring hope that heals and inspires.
Craig: I’ve read dozens of responses to the Gillette ad, but this one may be the wisest, most balanced, and most concise one I’ve seen. Thanks. I loved your emphasis on the two things men need–honesty and hope. (Although I can see why some guys thought the Gillette ad was short on hope–esp. after the first minute of what seemed like “Your gender is wrong.”) So thanks for challenging male-bashers and defensive men. Thanks for your good work and great insight!
Good to hear from you, Matt! You brought honesty and hope even in your comments. Thanks.
And it’s good to touch base with you. I really do appreciate the work that you do and the heart that you bring into it.
You’re on the right track, Craig. Most men, I believe, don’t know how gifted and talented,(wonderfully made), they are…..and that’s is a good starting point. “As a man thinks, in his heart, so is he” Prov 23:7. The inner man reflects the outer man. When we stop seeing the “junk” that has happened to us over the years and start seeing ourselves “wonderfully made” on the inside, we will become that on the outside. God’s gifts, talents and abilities that He designed for us before time,(Eph 2:10), will begin to manifest themselves outwardly and we will commence becoming all God created us to be. It’s all in the spiritual heart of man..and it becomes an amazing journey!
Thanks, Jim! You know, you’re a good man!
Thanks Craig. OK. Frankly, my reaction to the Gillette commercial was mixed. Is this another “emasculating message” to men, or one which causes men to step up and use their masculinity for good? I felt the message was mixed, honestly.
Have you seen this clip? Someone on twitter said it was issued in response to Gillette’s ad. I don’t know if that is true. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=116&v=x_HL0wiK4Zc I like “we see the good in a man”. I know you do, too, and you know I’m one of your biggest fans because of that.
Speaking of seeing the good in a man, did you see the article “Farewell, Masculinity: We’ll miss you when you’re gone” by Heather Wilhelm, on the National Review website, in response to the the American Psychological Association’s (APA) latest guidance. She writes “According to the organization’s new ‘Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men,’ the ‘harmful’ ideology of masculinity — marked by ‘stoicism, competitiveness, dominance, and aggression’ together with ‘anti-femininity, achievement, eschewal of the appearance of weakness, and adventure, risk, and violence’ — has got to go.” She humorously wonders, who is going to kill all the spiders in her house now? More seriously, the clip I link to raises questions about who is going to die at war or in dangerous work environments, if not men? (Of course some women do, but the statistics are strongly weighted towards men.)
Wilhelm cites other APA guidance which asserts that gender is non-binary and essentially a social construct, and suggests that the APA is inconsistent in its own assertions. I’m wondering if my tinge of uneasiness with the Gillette ad is illuminated by her comments. It is interesting that the father teaching his child to say “I am strong” is saying it to a child who is not obviously a boy, at least by traditional standards — long curly hair and a pink flower or design on his/her t-shirt. Maybe that’s Gillette’s point — we need to dump the stereotypes and socially construct men (and women). I’m not buying that in totality, because, as Wilhelm asks, “What about, well, testosterone? What about the wild idea that there might be a natural, non-socially-constructed difference between women and men?” (By the way, I saw somewhere that the APA did a “clarification”, a climbdown, in truth, due to the disparaging response to its guidance.)
Gillette suggests, it seems to me, that the default is that a man will walk into a room and grope a woman for a laugh, or demean a woman in a meeting, and so we now need to construct a new man as “some” are doing. “Boys will be boys” the large crowd of men says. I’m very aware of many men now long gone who always used their masculine strength to protect, honour and serve women. Your father comes to mind — I sure can’t imagine him grabbing a woman for a laugh, and if every man had been like him, we’d not need a #metoo. Even in the Gillette commercial, when the “best” men intervene (apparently the exceptional few), they are using their strength — “dominance” even, over other men. They physically step up and put their bodies in the way to protect. I wonder if Gillette, like the APA, has not fully thought this through. The ad didn’t leave me with hope, but with determination to disciple men to be, well, “the best a man can be”, and that includes embracing that we are more than a social construct, and more than a reaction to recent trends, however welcome and important those trends are.
Outstanding observations and insights as always, Brian. No, I hadn’t seen that clip until a man posted it on LinkedIn in response to my post. I love it! Thanks for including it here. I urge any readers to click on it. As for it being a “response to Gillette” I don’t know either. Rather than response, which sounds slightly argumentative, I’d say it’s an important and welcome contribution to the conversation. Along the lines of, “Yes and…”
It’s so true, historically men have been the ones who have gone to war to defend others, they have been the first responders, they were the ones who climbed stairs as others frantically raced to get out of collapsing towers. And on and on. The heroic, self-sacrificing nature of men is God-designed and won’t go away, regardless of Wilhelm’s opinion. It’s one of the reasons I think it’s so important to acknowledge and welcome the distinctive differences between femininity and masculinity. When we blur, reject or demean either, we renounce one of God’s greatest gifts.
Thanks for adding to the conversation, Brian.
It’s not about WANTING anything, wanting to be that man or WANTING to be the best we can be. We must FIRST remember that we AR that man, all we have to do is WALK INTO it. I have never waited for a commercial ‘ selling ‘ something for profits before I have believed who I ALREADY am and what my role as a man ALREADY is. Million man marches, etc etc, a black president, ugh, haven’t done one damn good thing. The men in church need to rise up and CLAIM w/ power and authority what has already been promised to us. With a little pain comes gain, no pain now (pressing into things will last forever) will leave a lifetime of regrets.
I didn’t see the ad and don’t really care to, but as usual you highlighted what men need to hear.
Joyfully yours in Christ,
Thanks Craig. The perspective presented via the recent Gillette commercial about men being the best they can be was refreshing. Proverbs 11:27 comes to mind: If you search for the good in others, you will find God’s favor; but if you search for evil, it will find you! Additionally: And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness — secret riches.I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name. Isaiah 45:3 and finally: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Phil 4:8
Good word, Stan!
Thanks Dad! Very well said